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At this point in time, many male entrepreneurs are on average more successful at growing their businesses than the average female entrepreneur. However, this is often not due to a difference in talent, ingenuity, or drive, but rather a matter of networking. Although women have the same abilities to network and grow their businesses, they are often reluctant to do so, especially if they are in a male-dominated industry or a new business owner.
It is vital for young female entrepreneurs to expand their networks if they want to grow their businesses and find success in their industry. But networking is easier said than done, so where do you start? Use the information and tips below to create a networking plan of action to make connections with professionals in your community who can help you become more successful.
The Importance of Building Your Network
According to Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, entrepreneurs that have larger and more diverse networks typically grow larger companies. An analysis in one report showed that female entrepreneurs and business owners tended to have smaller networks than their male counterparts. Part of this is due to the tendency for women business owners to seek guidance from more private environments like family and spouses rather than a more diverse network of friends and colleagues. This smaller and more narrow network can end up limiting female entrepreneurs.
It is important for women entrepreneurs to expand their social and professional networks to include individuals from more diverse fields that may be able to offer specialized advice or assistance. Making connections with other business leaders and professionals can help open up doors to entrepreneurs for exciting business opportunities, additional funding options, and new markets in which to grow their business.
If young female entrepreneurs want the same opportunities as their male counterparts, then they need to branch out past their more private network of family and friends to connect with professionals in their community.
Networking Tips for Female Entrepreneurs
Networking may seem like a simple task up front, but it can be difficult to get started. Whether you are shy, new to the business world, or just not sure where to meet other professionals in your area, you can use the three tips below to grow your network and expand your business opportunities:
1. Start by looking in your community.
If you’re not sure where to start networking and meeting people, a great place to look is within your community. Look for local events, groups, and clubs that will give you the opportunity to network. Many cities have networking events that are created just for young entrepreneurs, small business owners, and business professionals who want to meet new people within their communities and make connections.
If you are looking for guidance, advice, or mentorship from other female entrepreneurs, you may want to find an organization that brings together women business owners. This provides the opportunity to learn from someone who has been in your position and may be able to offer more targeted advice.
“The most efficient method is to see if there is a women’s or mom’s entrepreneur organization that already exists in your community, and then get involved with upcoming meetings and/or events,” says Alexandra Levit, business and workplace author, speaker, and consultant.
2. Look for local incubators and co-working spaces.
Collaboration is often the key to growing your business. Networking with other entrepreneurs who may want to collaborate or offer their guidance is a great way to discover new opportunities for your business. But where do you find other entrepreneurs in your area?
“Incubators and co-working environments are specifically designed to support the successful development of entrepreneurs. These two platforms provide an invaluable opportunity for women entrepreneurs to network with like-minded female peers in their communities,” says Erica Nicole of YFS Magazine, an online publication for young entrepreneurs.
By finding local incubators or working in a co-working space, you can network with other female business owners and their male counterparts to find mentorship and advice. This is a great way to not only discover new business opportunities but also find other business owners who want to collaborate.
3. Actively listen.
When you meet other business professionals in your community for the first time, it’s important to actively listen and contribute to the conversation in order to build lasting connections. Although eventually you may want to pitch your business or make a sale, that is not the initial goal of networking. Ask others questions to engage them and really get to know who they are and what they do.
Brenda Bazan and Nancy Hayes of MoolaHoop offer this networking advice for women: “Don’t be thinking about the next thing you are going to say when someone is talking. Listen for cues in what they are saying that you can use to deepen the relationship.”
Now that you know why networking is important and you’ve read more about what it takes to grow your network and expand your business connections, it’s time to create a plan of action. If you are just starting to network and need to quickly access funding for female entrepreneurs, consider online lending platforms for your small business loan needs. After you have identified local groups and events that will allow you to meet other professionals, consider what you can offer others and what opportunities you would like to take advantage of.